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Our Vision

Our vision is to enable all young people in Alnwick and the surrounding rural area to experience a place where they are valued and feel safe. In doing so, Gallery Youth will contribute to young people being supported, listened to and empowered, enabling them to have a more informed transition to adulthood.

We believe that ultimately all young people should be valued by the society in which they live, work and play. Those that are valued are much more likely to support the economic prosperity of the town and contribute to local communities, being safe, secure and connected.

We have put in place the key building blocks to ensure the future success of Gallery Youth. Our work will be young-people-focused, based on a detailed understanding of the community in which we operate. Our organisation will be effectively led, governed and underpinned by the required level of financial resources. A skilled, knowledgeable and motivated staff team will be working in a ‘fit for purpose’ environment with the necessary resources available to successfully organise and deliver services.

Our successful track record provides valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t. We will use that knowledge and experience to be innovative. We will challenge ourselves to think of new ideas that will help the organisation to deliver appropriate services for young people in the local area.

Gallery Youth has a good reputation and operates within a network of organisations and individuals who share common purposes and values.

Young people who are empowered have:

This ensures that young people achieve in education and employment, stay safe and healthy, and make a positive contribution to society.

Background & Achievements

Alnwick Young People’s Association was set up in 1994 as a result of consultation with young people, Alnwick Town Council, the Children’s Society and The Duchess’s Community High School. The consultation looked into young people’s needs in response to youth provision and the lack of young people’s services in the area. The steering group recruited a group of young people to assist with the survey and identified a building in the town centre that could be used to deliver youth work.

In July 1996 the Gallery Youth building was opened to act as a safe meeting place in the town centre for young people in the 13-19 age range. It soon became apparent that young people were presenting us with a wide range of issues. Initial developments led to group activities as a response to young people’s substance misuse and boredom. These activities became very popular and the project started to grow. A short pilot scheme of one-to-one support sessions was offered and the development of advice and information sessions began.

In 2000, lack of housing started to become an issue for young people. The Community Council of Northumberland (CCN) did some research into ‘Hidden Homelessness’ in the Alnwick area. Gallery Youth worked in partnership with the CCN, housing associations, social services and the District Council to look at ways to tackle the issue.

Over time, relationships with these agencies and other partners flourished and Gallery Youth expanded by employing an Advice and Information/Development Worker and a Young People’s Housing Support Worker, as well as expanding the building to incorporate an additional activity room, an office base and disabled access. The project built on its partnership approach with various agencies, continuing to grow and be part of many networking groups. We challenged the negative images and attitudes that young people face, mainly from adults, in small market towns.

In 2010 we secured funding from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Programme to continue to deliver youth work in Alnwick and the surrounding rural area over five years. The project secured a service level agreement with the local authority to support young people in housing need. This funding package enabled us to focus on the development of more targeted services. These were based around expanding the delivery of advice and information, providing evening drop-in sessions, developing consultation and democracy work, setting up a local youth forum, supporting homeless young people and establishing two supported accommodation units in the town.

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Issues Raised

Issues raised by young people include mental health, relationship issues, drugs and alcohol, homelessness, unemployment, rural isolation, food poverty, sexual health and gender identity.

Dealing with these and other issues has given us invaluable insight and experience of the wide range of needs which are often hidden in a rural market town such as Alnwick.

 

Partnerships

The Alnwick Area Youth Work Practitioners’ Forum was set up in 2010, to enable us to work in partnership. The forum was a result of a Gallery Youth review in 2011 and aimed to bring together organisations working with young people in the local area, sharing best practice and planning partnership working. The forum has a range of partners from both the statutory and voluntary sector, including Northumberland County Council Youth Service, Alnwick Community Centre, RAF Boulmer Youth Sector (4 Children), the Rothbury & Coquetdale Youth Project, N.C.C. Employability and Skills Service and Seahouses Youth Project. Initiatives developed by the forum have included summer activities, training events, consultation with young people and the delivery of sexual health programmes in the local high school. The forum is seen as a model of good practice, with local agencies pooling and sharing resources for the benefit of young people. The forum members work together to ensure that projects and services are not duplicated and ensuring a partnership approach to delivery.

In October 2013 concerns were raised at the forum about young people’s risky behaviour in terms of sexual health and alcohol misuse, especially those in Year 9. The forum approached the Local Multi Agency Problem Solving initiative (LMAPS) and The Duchess’s Community High School to discuss a way forward to tackle this issue. As a result Gallery Youth and Alnwick Community Centre delivered a series of workshops based around healthy relationships, sexual health and risky behaviour to 196 Year 9 pupils at the high school in January and February 2014.

Review

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In 2014, Gallery Youth went through a strategic review which involved consulting partner organisations, trustees, staff and young people. The aim of the review was to understand the opportunities and threats to the organisation, ensure a good knowledge of the local, regional and national context for youth work and identify the best future direction. The review process has been key to developing plans for the services we need to deliver over the next three years. We remain committed to delivering services which provide relevant, quality-driven outcomes for young people from Alnwick and the surrounding rurally isolated areas.

Good governance is crucial to drive the project forward. This issue was discussed in detail throughout the review process. The Trustees are aware of their responsibilities and have looked at ways to maximise the value of their contribution to the project, by supporting staff and having a collective vision and understanding in terms of moving Gallery Youth to the next stage of its development. Trustees participated in various review sessions and some have been involved in rewriting policies, reviewing and strengthening management processes and contributing to the development of the business plan.

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As well as the strategic review, information for this business plan has been collated from annual reports and other public documents to understand Gallery Youth’s history. This enables funders, partner organisations and stakeholders to understand how our services have evolved. The background information also sets the context in which we operate. We have good networks with a range of agencies on a local and county wide level. We feed into various bodies such as Northumberland County Council (NCC), Alnwick Town Council, Local Multi Agency Problem Solving Group (LMAPS), Alnwick Area Youth Practitioners Forum and engage well with the local community.

This was evident through the interviews held with decision makers and stakeholders who took part in the review process. Gallery Youth and its stakeholders believe that networks and partnership working have been essential in the identification and delivery of many services to young people. However, it was highlighted that the service portfolio should be reviewed and widened, especially in the current climate, as demand for support services is increasing year on year. At the same time as increases in demand, other services are being closed or downsized and Gallery Youth is filling those gaps. Stronger networks and partnerships with key stakeholders is crucial in terms of future delivery of services to young people in Alnwick and the surrounding area.

As an organisation we are in a prime position to understand our current and future potential market which is the community of Alnwick and surrounding rural area. We can demonstrate this through past experience and a proven track record in service delivery. Our work with young people and understanding young people’s issues ensures the delivery of appropriate services by responding to needs in a flexible way. We believe that identifying the needs of young people is important in terms of delivering the most appropriate resources as well as a focus on future project development. One of our strengths is the way in which we engage young people in consultation to identify gaps and evaluate the work we do.

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Responding to Need

We have a long track record of initiating ideas and responding to the needs and aspirations of young people in Alnwick and the surrounding area. We have carried out innovative projects which have effected positive change in the local community. These have included:

Respect events

These are showcase events where young people have taken over Alnwick Market Place for a day, participated in and delivered activities based around various themes of respect for young people. They have highlighted issues that are important to them to local decision makers and the general public. These have included transport, education, lack of youth services and the way that young people didn’t feel part of their community. As a result of these events young people are now included in Alnwick Music Festival, Youth Theatre at The Alnwick Playhouse and have run their own shows on Lionheart Radio.

Consultation and listening to young people

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This is an essential element to Gallery Youth and is evident through the Youth Forum’s that have been supported. The forum has fed into the county council democratic services, met with the local MP and councillors. Other consultation has been around services for young people in the area through group discussion with young people, questionnaires in the high school and outreach work in rural villages. We involve young people in decision making and discussion on a regular basis ensuring they have a voice and are listened to in terms of shaping services that meet their needs. Young people were involved in consultation as part of the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan which feeds into the town council and will shape services in the town from 2015 to 2031. We have worked with and supported group of young people to create a cycle track in the area in response to them riding their bikes dangerously in the town centre. This has taken five years of consultation with young people as well as the general public. As a result they now have a piece of land leased through the town council and are currently waiting decisions on funding bids to built the cycle track on the outskirts of town next year.

Art Projects

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These have included involving young people who have been involved in anti social behaviour and those who have been identified as NEET. The most recent project involved a group of young people who had been highlighted by the police and the LMAPS partnership. We engaged with these young people over the past year and they worked alongside a local artist and helped to design a series of large boards that would be displayed in the local bus station. Using aerosol and acrylic paints six boards were designed and painted with the young people. Once the boards were on display youth crime in the local area decreased by 25% (LMAPS figures) as the young people who were involved felt that they had made a positive contribution to their community and they stopped getting involved in vandalism. A follow up art project entitled ‘Paint the Town’ is currently ongoing and is engaging another ‘hard to reach’ group of young people in the town.

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Partnership working

We have an ethos of working in partnership. This is evident through the Alnwick Area Youth Practitioners Forum. We believe that working in partnership enables us to deliver better quality services for young people in the area by sharing resources and learning from other organisations. We are currently doing partnership work outside Alnwick in Amble and Stobhill near Morpeth due to lack of provision in those areas.

Responding to housing issues

We have worked in partnership with social landlords supporting young people with issues for eleven years, providing floating support. Two years ago there was a huge increase in youth homelessness in the town with eight young people sleeping rough within a month. We worked with the NCC homelessness team and Johnnie Johnson Housing and set up two temporary supported accommodation units in the town. Since then we have had nine young people access those units prior to moving on to their own tenancies with support.

These are all different ways of engaging young people and meeting needs. We believe that trying new ideas can be refreshing and that being adaptable, open to change and willing to explore new ways of working can be beneficial for all involved. Effecting change, particularly changing perceptions within a small community, and working with young people can take time and the rewards for this do not come overnight. This is reflected in our holistic approach to working with young people and other organisations on a local and county wide level.

We successfully deliver services to local young people that meet their needs and aspirations. We are in a position to build on this and think about the future funding landscape to tease out which outcomes we can deliver for larger stakeholders in the future such as the local authority.

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National Picture

Launched in December 2011, the Government’s ‘Positive for Youth’ policy set out the principles of what a good local system of support for young people looks like. It emphasises the importance of young people’s personal and social development to their educational and other long term outcomes. The Government outlined a commitment to improving the quality of local authority commissioning and making it easier for voluntary and community groups to deliver services.

The Government is encouraging local authorities to look at new forms of delivery of services of young people, including mutual’s and joint venture partnerships with voluntary sector organisations and charities.

The progress report on ‘Positive for Youth’ outlines the following:

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Local Content

In October 2014, Northumberland County Council produced a discussion paper, Reviewing the role of the Youth Service. This paper covers some of the issues and national policy highlighted above. It outlines the authority’s plans to review current and potential partnerships, bringing together integrated support arrangements for the most vulnerable young people in the area. This puts Gallery Youth, with its track record of successful work with vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, in a prime position to explore opportunities to deliver services on a local level in partnership with the authority. The authority is looking to implement the national policy yet at the same time is faced with substantial budget cuts.

The local authority may outsource youth work to the voluntary sector to ensure value for money. Securing funding from the local authority could put ourselves in a stronger position to gain ‘match funding’ from other larger funding bodies, enabling delivery of a wide range of services to young people.

Resources

Resources aren’t defined by equipment alone. Key for the future is committed and well-motivated staff and trustees. Good governance is needed to drive the project forward and this will come from the Trustees. The review identified that trustees are aware of their responsibilities and would like to explore ways of taking Gallery Youth forward, initially by supporting staff and ensuring that there is a clear shared vision for the next stages of the organisation’s development. This may include recruiting new trustees with the specific skills, experience and time to offer the organisation and to ensure clear successive planning.

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Although it can be difficult to recruit staff in rural areas, Gallery Youth has retained staff for long periods of time. On average full time staff work at Gallery Youth for five years or more. Maintaining high levels of staff retention and ensuring future recruitment is essential, and secured by providing training opportunities and staff development. We recognise that our pool of sessional staff in the area can deliver evening sessions and specific activities, though most of them have other jobs and are not available during the day. Motivated members of staff with the appropriate skills and knowledge – such as listening skills, teamwork, group-work, advice and information delivery – can challenge young people in a supportive way. Through the strategic review, stakeholders highlighted this as very important because they value the impact of staff time spent working directly with young people.

Stakeholders also recognise that young people are a valuable resource for information and that Gallery Youth actively seeks out their opinions and ideas. These should be utilised through providing young people the opportunity to shape and evaluate services that the organisation delivers.

Gallery Youth has an excellent track record in securing and managing funding streams to deliver front line services such as Big Lottery, European funds, local authority funds and contracts, as well as grants from smaller trusts and foundations. Clear, robust financial procedures are in place. Good governance, a committed and experienced team of staff and trustees and an enviable reputation with stakeholders and the local community, spanning eighteen years, mean Gallery Youth is a low risk investment prospect for funders.

Summary

Alnwick is seen as a prosperous area to many. Country Life magazine highlighted Alnwick as the best place to live in Britain in 1996. This pushed house prices up to dramatic levels and prevented many local people entering the housing market, putting pressure on social housing in the area. However, hidden deprivation and rural isolation is the reality for many young people. Statistics collated over time by us highlight the wide range of issues that young people have presented. We recognise that transition to adulthood is often a difficult period in young people’s lives and that young people from all backgrounds need support at some point. Gallery Youth has supported young people for eighteen years. The need to continue with this support could not be greater, especially due to government cuts to other services traditionally aimed at young people. Over the last 5 years, an average of 400 individuals have used services provided by Gallery Youth each year and the general trend is for an annual increase. (taken from annual report statistics and Reaching Communities monitoring forms).

We set out to support young people as they work through personal and social issues that affect them. The aim is always to make that transition smoother by offering support in an environment where they are welcome and feel safe, giving them an opportunity to be heard and valued.

Through our strategic review we had the opportunity to revisit what we were aiming to achieve and ensure that the services we provide are appropriate and delivered to the best of our ability. We see the end result as young people participate in and benefit from high quality youth work practice when engaging with our organisation, ensuring that we have a positive impact on the difference we can make to young people’s lives in the Alnwick area.

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Outcomes and Delivery

Through the review process, analysis of the recorded statistics for this year’s annual report and Reaching Communities monitoring reports, it is apparent that the issues young people were presenting can be grouped into five main themes. We have used these to focus in on our identified outcomes for the next three years. These themes are as follows:

Rural isolation and disadvantage:

Participation in positive activities:

Risky behaviour:

Personal support:

Health:

Projected Outcomes

Target 1

Address issues of rural isolation and disadvantage for young people

“Northumberland is sparsely populated and 49% of the population live in a rural area compared to 18% in the North East generally”

Northumberland County Council, 2012

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Target 2

Increase young people’s participation in positive activities to become active citizens

“Promoting young people’s participation – working with youth sector partners to help shape policies across government to better meet the needs of young people.”

Positive for Youth, December 2011

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Target 3a

Reduce young people’s risky behaviour

“Hospital submissions for substance misuse in young people aged 15 to 24years old in Northumberland for 2008 -2011was 96.8 per 100,000 hospital admissions. This is worse than the rate for England (69.4).”

NCC Young People aged 16 to 24 in Northumberland. A Statistical Profile, January 2014

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Target 3b

To reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour involving young people in Alnwick and the surrounding area

“Whilst crime may be generally lower in a rural area criminal damage and arson are the highest crime types for Northumberland. Alnwick has experienced incidences of both, which can give the community a negative view of young people.”

Northumberland County Council, 2014

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Target 4

To deliver personal support including information and advice for young people in need

“It was inspirational for us to meet the Gallery Youth team and see for ourselves the brilliant work they do, everyday, in support of homeless young people in the community”

Brian Giles, Virgin Money, Northumberland Gazette. October 27th 2013.

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Target 5

Reducing teenage pregnancy and STI’s in young people, improving young people’s understanding of sexual health.

“The conception rate for people under 18 in the county between 1998 and 2012 has dropped 32% to 28.4 per 1,000 conceptions, which is lower than the national average... ...We are delighted that the proactive work taking place to improve access to services and preventative work being provide within schools and young people’s settings is helping to tackle unplanned teenage pregnancy”

Karen Herne, public health service manager from Northumberland County Council April 2014.

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